Hoyer Clashes With Sanders Over Omar Backlash

Mike Brest Reporter
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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer disagreed with Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in regards to his defense of Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC.

Omar has been accused of espousing anti-Semitic views while trying to criticize Israel. In particular, she questioned if some members of Congress have a “dual loyalty” to the U.S. and Israel. (RELATED: Omar’s Experiences Are ‘More Personal’ Than Children Of Holocaust Survivors)

“We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel,” reads Sanders’ statement on the issue in part. “Rather, we must develop an even-handed Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace.”

“I think that is incorrect, I think he is correct that we don’t want to stifle debate. This is not about debate. This is about stereotypes, this is about language that has been used for a very long period of time to demean and discriminate against Jews,” Hoyer stated. “And other people, because as you know they — the resolution has been broadened, but I disagree with Senator Sanders that this is about free speech and about discussing policies or frankly the Netanyahu administration — putting in its coalition a party that has used racist and hate speech.”


“I think that is unfortunate, but having said that, this is not about that. This is not about debate, this is not about policy debates,” he continued. “Every member of Congress, every American citizen has a right and should debate policy differences in an open way without fear of recriminations except obviously opposition to the idea perhaps.” (RELATED: Omar Facing More Accusations Of Anti-Semitism)

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 26: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) stands with Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) as lawmakers speak about the Voting Rights Enhancement Act, H.R. 4, on Capitol Hill on February 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

“I think the senator is not accurate that this has anything to do with any members right to debate policy and to articulate their positions on policy, it is about doing so in a way that stokes prejudice, bigotry, and hatred,” Hoyer concluded.

Democrats decided to push for a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, which was scheduled to take place Wednesday before being delayed. The text of the resolution does not mention Omar by name and instead includes additional language condemning all hate.

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